Promoting Screening Mammography: Insight or Uptake?

John D. Keen, MD, MBA


J Am Board Fam Med. 2010;23(6):775-782. 

In This Article


The limited age-related benefit from screening mammography means that, for younger breast cancer survivors, mammography most likely (>95%) did not save their lives. Forty- and 50-year-old women thinking about participating in screening are 10 times more likely to experience overdiagnosis and overtreatment than to have their lives saved by mammography. Given this reality, screening advocates should refocus their priority from promoting uptake to promoting insight. Primary care physicians have an obligation to understand the harms and benefits of screening to help empower their patients to make individual decisions. If younger women decline screening participation because of increased understanding about benefits and harms, all physicians should appreciate this decision as a reasonable choice.


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